When October greets us, it welcomes us with an abundance of fruit & vegetables, with spiced coffees and delicious pies. The knits and scarves make their appearance, along with the first twist of the dial to take off the chill on the mornings.
Living in Central London I have the choice of parks, riverside walks and many of the landmarks on offer, but when autumn arrives I find my self jumping on the train from Waterloo and spending many of my mornings in Richmond Park.
From the end of September to mid November a remarkable change beholds this urban wilderness.
Entering the park you're greeted with a chorus of bird song, the blue tits chattering away, the jackdaws screeching to the unfamiliar call of the ring neck parakeet.
From a far, across the ponds and the Queen Elizabeth plantation a deep roaring, in-fact bellowing is best to describe it, is heard. As you carry on exploring the park, this unfamiliar roar seem to radiate from one location to another, in a continuous succession. Its the call from Britain's largest animal, the majestic Red Deer.
The call signifies the start of the rut, the mating season for deer of the park. Males (stags) grow new antlers each year and they are at their largest during the rut. They use them in battle against other stags to defend their harem and to compete for mating rights over the Females (Hinds).
Among the bracken I see movement of which seems to stop the moment I glance over, and as soon as my eyes leave, the movement begins again, then as if from no where I was in the presence of the most majestic, proud, royal king of the park. A six foot, deep tanned male Red deer. Standing proud with a pair of impressive crowns adorning the beasts head, and a facial expression that resembles the paintings of the 17th century kings, demanding you bow down to his almighty grace. He then glided across the designated foot path, and disappears back in to the speckled, wilting bracken.
A slight inclined walk south of the ponds, gazing upon the duchess wood, is a splendid Georgian house, known as the “white lodge”. Previously a royal residence and hunting lodge for king George II, this hidden gem is now home to the Royal Ballet School. From the gates an avenue of trees line the queens ride, one can only wonder which royals, dignitaries and regular folk have taken to this park for escapism.
Heading over kill-cat corner, weaving through queen mothers copse, watching the grey squirrels scurrying around gathering acorns for their winter stock. Scuttling up the grand old oak trees chasing one another for stealing their swag.
From a distance another small heard of deer seem to be so gracefully grazing and cantering around the jubilee ponds. These breeds of deer seem more placid, calm and more timid to their relatives I was greeted with earlier in the day. Known as fallow deer. Bang in the middle of autumn, a stag draped beautifully with a chestnut coat, mottled with spots of white, was seemingly shedding into a darker all round solid colour for the coming winter months.
CLICK HERE for the parks website.